Erik Spoelstra wasn't pleased with the Heat
's defensive play in Game 3. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO -- The Heat have shown the ability to flip a switch repeatedly during the postseason, avoiding back-to-back losses for months and playing some of their best, most inspired basketball after losses. The switch flipped back to off in a brutal 113-77 loss to the Spurs in Game 3 of the Finals on Tuesday, one game after the Heat dominated play in a 103-84 Game 2 victory.
Coach Erik Spoelstra got after his team following this loss, expressing disappointment at the overall defensive effort, among other complaints.
"We got what we deserved tonight," Spoelstra said, repeating the phrase multiple times throughout his postgame press conference. "We got what we deserved. [The Spurs] got into an incredible rhythm, even in the first quarter. Every shot they wanted to get they got. We did not disrupt them. And then that's the flow. And it just went from there. We never got to our game."
San Antonio set a Finals record by making 16 three-pointers and the 36-point margin of defeat marked the worst playoff loss in Miami's franchise history. The Heat were regularly picked apart on their perimeter rotations, as the Spurs swung the ball to the open man freely.
"If you're not doing your job and doing it early and doing it with focus and discipline, guys get open," Spoelstra said. "That's what happened. They got all the easy ones they wanted first."
Damage was done inside too: The Heat were slow to rotate and often caught out of position, conceding a number of dunks to Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter. The Spurs' 113 points marked the fourth-most points conceded by the Heat in a game this season and the most in a postseason game, by a whopping 11 points.
"[The Spurs] played with more force and more focus," Spoelstra said. "They outplayed us, outclassed us from the very tip."
San Antonio won all four quarters and blitzed out of the gate after halftime, going on a 9-2 run in the second half. The Spurs held LeBron James in check all night, but Spoelstra refused to let the discussion turn to his team's offense, instead harping on the Heat's defense and lack of mental focus.
"I don't even want our guys bringing up that side of the floor," he said. "If that's what we're going to pinpoint this to, we're kidding ourselves. We really are. ... The most disappointing thing for us in that locker room is to look at each other and to know that we let ourselves down tonight, in terms of the competitiveness and focus that we needed to bring. They will have to improve in the next 48 hours."
The Spurs now lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is set for Thursday at the AT&T Center.